Sing For Yourself and No One Else

Sing For Yourself and No one Else

Had a fantastic performance workshop with the Broadway composer Adam Guettel in June of this year. He was inspiring and VERY experienced, and reconfirmed something that I have felt for a long time, and feel evermore passionate about now. “Sing for yourself and for no one else”. What does this mean exactly?

Well, singing for me, was and still is a very personal experience. I used to sing as a kid without even knowing I was singing – I’d hum along to things, making up my own tunes, soothing myself, singing when I went out on a walk, singing whilst skipping etc. I didn’t know that this was a “thing” or that anyone would judge me for it or that it had any particular value. I just sang because I sang – similar to speaking really. Somehow along the way, this came into focus and I found myself starting to place value on how and what I sang. I remember going to a local dance school and students there were getting solos and performing songs in front of audiences. This felt like a strange concept to me – I never thought that I could sing, so much as I just did it spontaneously, I suddenly started to question the value of what I was doing, why I didn’t sound like the other girls and if I was doing something wrong. Quantifying a thing that is so personal, felt strange and unnatural. 

In this current climate of singing competitions, qualifications, grading, there is so much sectioning off, measuring, quantifying, valuing, exploiting, shaping, moulding, quaffing, messing, it’s hard to remember why you got into performing in the first place. Everyone has their reasons but there must have been some joy in it initially….

If you choose to sing in front of people or not, that joy and self expression has to have a place there. The connection firstly needs acknowledging, nurturing and forming with yourself, like a bond, like your closest friend, like delving deep into yourself. Even if you have sung the same song a million times, this can still be there. If you make this connection with yourself, I have a feeling that this connection will then be seen and felt by your audience – whoever they may be. If they like and respond to what you are doing then great, what a bonus. If they don’t, then hey, you have lost nothing. You STILL have your connection and your centre. Perhaps you could be that one constant and reliable source in a room of strangers? Perhaps, even in a pressurised audition situation, you could somehow connect with that very personal part of yourself and dare to show it? Dare to go there? It takes guts though, believe me, but what’s the worst that could happen? It would be great if we all really didn’t give a shit about what other’s felt or thought about us. I love that idea.

One Reply

  • Good post. I’m working on some songs at the moment that I think, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that need to be sung by the writer. I don’t normally do this because I have been given the voice box of a 300yo church harmonium whose bellows have been eaten by rats and attacked by mildew…
    However, as you say, by being true to the limits of the tool, and not trying to be Pavarotti, George Michael or even Tom Waits, something listenable is emerging. So, I guess you’re right Michaela.

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